Coming into the 2015 season, Hansel Robles wasn’t exactly a top prospect. His dominant season with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2012, during which he had a 1.11 ERA in twelve starts, was looking like a distant memory, and he hadn’t pitched all that well since. While that season in Brooklyn got him a spot on the Amazin’ Avenue top fifty for 2013, he didn’t make our top twenty-five in either of the past two years.
While he had made some appearances in relief in his minor league career, Robles was very much a starting pitcher until the middle of the 2014 season. Through seventeen starts with the Double-A Binghamton Mets, he had a 4.97 ERA with 76 strikeouts, 34 walks, and 10 home runs allowed in 87.0 innings. Opponents hit .277/.349/.464 against him over that span. So the Mets moved him to the bullpen, and it worked. In 23.1 innings over his final thirteen appearances, one of which was a short start, Robles had a 1.90 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 9 walks and did not allow any home runs.
That set him up to begin 2015 with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. After 7.2 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk, Robles was promoted to the Mets to take the injured Jerry Blevins’s spot in the bullpen. He stuck with the Mets for the rest of the season, and in 54 regular season innings, he had a 3.67 ERA and 3.91 FIP with 10.2 strikeouts, 3.0 walks, and 1.3 home runs per nine innings. The strikeout rate was encouraging, and the overall results were decent.
Though he wasn’t the only Mets relief pitcher to use the tactic, Robles became well-known for the quick pitch when he used it against the Phillies in late August. That pitch caused an uproar among the last-place Phillies. And in the final week of the regular season, Robles was suspended for three games for throwing at Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp’s head. Robles appealed, though, and delayed potentially serving any of those games until the 2016 season.
Robles didn’t pitch much in the postseason, as Terry Collins used him just three times, all with the Mets trailing. But he threw a perfect inning in each of those appearances and struck out four batters in total over those three innings. And last but not least, Robles has been working out with the recently re-signed Bartolo Colon in the offseason, which hopefully portends an even better sophomore campaign in the big leagues.